|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
Giving tools or fixtures adds new meaning to "home for the holidays" when shoppers donate to Habitat For Humanity.
Dec. 2, 2004
By John Gordon*
FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS) — When a shirt and tie just won’t do for Christmas, members of Arlington Heights United Methodist Church turn to unconventional gifts.
$25 they can buy, in a friend or family member’s name, one week of hot
lunches and personal visits from Meals on Wheels. Or $40 buys a tank of
gas for the Humane Society’s cruelty-investigation vehicles.
do it every year,” says church member Joann Basham. “My family has come
to expect this instead of something that they really don’t need, and
they love it.”
the last four years, the church has hosted a G.I.F.T. (Giving Inspired
by Faith and Thanksgiving) Shop. More than a dozen charities are invited
to set up booths in an atrium at the church during Sunday services.
Hundreds of church members browse through the booths and pick holiday
is the meaning of Christmas,” says Carla Jutson of Meals on Wheels.
“This is people giving to people to help out humanity.”
G.I.F.T. Shop, held for a few hours on a Sunday in November, has
consistently raised $10,000 or more for each of the past three years.
crowded malls, G.I.F.T. shoppers can help grant a wish for a child with
a terminal illness, support a children’s theater group, or donate to
the Methodist Children’s Home. They can also buy mini-blinds, light
fixtures or hammers for Habitat for Humanity.
Ruth McCullough, helping staff the Habitat for Humanity booth, the
familiar phrase of “home for the holidays” takes on a new meaning this
year. McCullough is becoming the owner of a Habitat home, just in time
McCullough, who lives in an apartment, ran into obstacles trying to buy her own home.
|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
Heights United Methodist Church invites charities to set up booths for
their G.I.F.T. (Giving Inspired by Faith and Thanksgiving) Shop.
“I tried to get a loan, and I didn’t get it,” she says. “So I went to Habitat.’
The organization makes homes affordable by having volunteers and the homeowner do the construction.
going to make a big difference,” McCullough says. “Now I’m going to be a
homeowner, where I can see where my money is going.”
Shop donors can support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, granting the wishes
of children with life-threatening illnesses. One of those wishes came
from a 4-year-old boy who set aside thoughts about his own illness to
help his friends.
wanted to be the boss of the ice-cream truck because his little friends
couldn’t afford to get ice cream when (the truck) came by,” says Kathy
White of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “So he wanted to give his
friends free ice cream.”
can also buy a teddy bear for the Alliance for Children, a coat for the
Lena Pope Home for children in foster care, or support the Kids Who
Care theater program.
guaranteed that my friends and family are going to get something that
isn’t going to rip, rattle, roar, rust, bust, split down the seams or
collect dust,” says Emily Grimes, head of the church’s mission
Humane Society of North Texas offers sponsorships of pet adoptions and
heartworm treatments — more possibilities for the friend or relative who
“For those people (who) just don’t know what to buy, this is a great option,” says the Humane Society’s Pam Palmer.
year, church member Barbara Williams decides to donate to a women’s
center. She also buys teddy bears in honor of her two grandchildren, and
she pays for an hour of counseling for an abused child as a gift to her
Williams says the G.I.F.T. Shop not only helps worthy charities but shows the true meaning of the season.
“The gift that I’m giving them is the gift of knowing it’s good to give, and not always receive.”
*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer in Marshall, Texas.
News media contact: Fran Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.